Morocco at that time was literally like stepping back into Biblical times. Crossing into Spain from the rest of Europe was like going back into time hundreds of years. This was like going back a thousand. Tetuan is in the desert by the Mediterranean. They manage to grow food with irrigation. At that time, it was all agriculture and crafts and Islam. We saw only men. Women, if they were out at all, were covered in burkas. The road was good with little traffic because there were few vehicles. The air was clean. It was still hot as we pulled into Tetuan in the late afternoon; people resting inside waiting for evening. It was a very quiet place, a small town with a beautiful center square, palm trees and, on the buildings, mosaic tiles.
We heard the call to prayer from the minaret as we circled the zocalo, the main plaza, and looked for a place to park the Triumph so we could walk around. No sooner had I killed the engine and dropped the kickstand than there were a couple of young boys telling us where to spend the night and where to park the motorcycle safely. They had a garage for the motorcycle and a good, cheap rooming house for us. We got into our room and put our feet up, happy to be off the road for a while. No more than five minutes later there was a knock on the door.
Striding into the room was a big, rugged-looking Arab with a Fez cap on his head. It was scary. He was about Sebastiano’s age and, like Sebastiano, he had a very commanding presence. We didn’t know what was going to happen. Then he said, in perfect hipster talk, “Whoa babies, be cool. I’m the cat in this town. Everything’s gonna to be fine. Take it easy man.” This was so unexpected it totally stopped our minds. His name was Abid but he liked to be called “Bubba.” He had lived in New York for ten years and knew everything about Greenwich Village and the hip scene there.
He put us at ease because what he communicated more than anything was how happy he was that we had come into his territory. He knew our purpose and so did everyone else in the town just by looking at us riding in on that motorcycle. He said he could help us. He did so immediately by pulling out a couple of big joints of kief and lighting them up on the spot, giggling all the time. We sucked down that mysterious smoke like a couple of vacuum cleaners. It wasn’t long before reality started to warp in a very pleasant way. All the sounds and colors and the light from the window and the breeze with its African spice came forward and the mind’s chatter drifted into the background.
The next few days were time out of time. “Bubba” had a car and a driver to take us around to meet his friends and see the sights. For me to be able to sink back in the seats as a passenger and watch the scenery passing by as the sun began to set was a luxury after the stress of the motorcycle journey. We trusted the situation and felt we were with kindred spirits. The kief heightened every sense and pushed the exotic to a further level of wonder. We drove around and out of town to the beach where Bubba brought us to a teahouse. He knew everyone there and we were greeted warmly. They served us sugary mint tea and, as we sat at the simple wooden tables and looked out at the beach through the open sides of the building, men would come up to our table just to say “Welcome, thank you for being here.”
As the sun set, we smoked more kief and listened to Moroccan music on the radio. We walked out on the huge expanse of unspoiled beach to see the sun sink into the Mediterranean. He took us then to a place to eat couscous and later to another gathering place where, once again, there were only men. And, once again, they greeted us with warmth and friendliness and offered us hashish and other kinds of hashish candy.